B.B. King, “The king of Blues,” a Mississippi-born son of sharecroppers whose shimmering guitar leads and endless touring schedule came to define the blues across multiple generations, has died. He was 89.
King, who had been in hospice care at his home in Las Vegas after falling ill earlier this year, died peacefully in his sleep at 9:40 p.m. PDT Thursday, his attorney Brent Bryson told The Associated Press. Deteriorating health had caused King to be hospitalized twice since April.
Inarguably one of the greatest guitarists of all time, King brought wave after wave of new fans to the blues even long after the form faded from its heyday, and influenced numerous budding guitar masters — many of them longstanding legends in their own right by now — with his searing, heartfelt vocals and soloing on songs such as “The Thrill Is Gone.”
His trusty hollow-body Gibson, which he affectionately called “Lucille,” was itself a character in the B.B. King story. There were actually multiple Lucilles, variations of Gibson’s ES-355, which the manufacturer custom-built for King, who came up with the name after a dance hall he was playing in 1949 was set ablaze by two men who knocked over a kerosene heating barrel while fighting over a woman named Lucille.
Although I was never fortunate enough to sit down for an interview with B.B. King, I did host the world premiere radio broadcast for his collaboration with Eric Clapton, “Riding with the King” back in June of 2000. I played that radio special as today’s Flashback Friday segment, so you can hear it on today’s podcast (or just by clicking the player at the top of this post).
It’s nice to know it’s not just fans who are honoring the great BB King today – just see what his fellow musicians are saying, starting with Eric Clapton, here.
In the first hour of today’s show, I chatted with my Republican friend, former Congressman John LeBoutillier, who makes more sense than just about any other Republican out there. We spoke about Jeb’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week, and the likelihood that he probably sunk his presidential chances with his ridiculous answers about W’s invasion of Iraq. We also discussed the week in TPP news….
South Florida Alert
I’ll be speaking at the Oakland Park Democratic Club Monday night, 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church 3970 NW 21st Ave, Oakland Park, FL 33309. If you’re in South Florida, I expect to see you there!
And, of course, I’ll be back here Monday morning, radio or not!